Revisiting The Maruti Gypsy, Predecessor Of The New Jimny

Modified On May 25, 2023 05:10 PM By Tarun for Maruti Jimny

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The Gypsy, essentially an elongated second-gen global Jimny, was on sale in India for almost 35 years!

The Maruti Suzuki Jimny is literally ruling the social media charts now. The media drives are showing the off-roading prowess of the Jimny after taking it through the trickiest of roads, making it jump, and putting it through rock-filled rivers. It’s been close to four years since we haven’t had an off-roader from India’s largest carmaker. Prior to that, there was one for 34 years (since 1985), and it was the venerable Maruti Gypsy. 

Brief History

Maruti Gypsy

The Maruti Gypsy debuted as an elongated version of the globally sold second-gen Jimny, in December 1985. It was the third model from Maruti after the 800 and the Omni, and was launched at a time when SUVs were not so popular in India. Little did everyone know that it would make India fall in love with 4x4 madness! 

The Gypsy was always a lifestyle-oriented vehicle. Back when launched, it came with a humble 1-litre petrol engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. Later with the King model, it got the more powerful carbureted 1.3-litre petrol engine with a 5-speed manual, which was fuel-injected in the 2000s to meet the stricter emissions norms. The ladder-frame chassis and 4X4 as standard gave it pure off-roading credentials. It could go anywhere, and tackle the harshest of terrain, but it was still reliable and easy to maintain. 

The Mountain Goat!

Maruti Gypsy

Since it was a lightweight SUV, the Gypsy was very popular in motorsport, especially rallies. There have been several examples of rally-spec Gypsys winning multiple competitions over the past two decades. It’s also a regular sight at off-roading events, where it would routinely put many bigger and more capable SUVs to shame. Its lightweight nature made it quick on its toes and the part-time 4WD with a low-range gearbox ensured it could reach anywhere. This is why it is popularly known as the Mountain Goat! 

FUN FACT: Many old Gypsys are now being made fully electric with retro-fitted battery packs, for the Army!

Multiple roles to play

Maruti Gypsy

While it appealed to the enthusiasts and rallyists, it seemed like the law enforcements authorities of the country also took a liking to it. The Gypsy was very popular in the Indian Army, with over 35,000 units having been supplied to them over the years. Police departments of several cities also made the Gypsy their patrol vehicles. Easy access to the rear seats helped the police in quickly escorting the criminals (just kidding!). Besides, the Gypsy was put to use wherever the road got tricky. It’s still used for jungle safaris, like in Ranthambore (Rajasthan) or Jim Corbett (Uttarakhand), with open tops for easily spotting wildlife. And unlike other diesel-powered 4X4s, the Gypsy was much quieter on the trails. 

Shortcomings Of The Gypsy

Maruti Gypsy

With all the good things about the Gypsy, there were some shortcomings too. The Gypsy was never good at on-road comfort. The leaf spring suspension, which was great in tough, off-road conditions, was known for giving you jolts while going over the potholes on our roads. 

Also, the Gypsy was just bare-bones, with even basic features like power steering, power windows, and an air conditioner sometimes missing.  It also lacked most modern safety features, and in its 34-year stint, wasn’t practical for a family as it was only offered in a three-door avatar. 

Also Read: Explore The Maruti Jimny Summit Seeker Accessory Pack In 8 Pics

The Aftermarket Scene

Maruti Gypsy

It’s tough to score a well-maintained Gypsy in the used car market. Either it will be a badly roughed-up model which will need some serious repairs or it’ll be badly modified. There are several well-maintained near-stock options but carry a sticker price of around  4-5 lakh. Most of the Gypsy buyers never kept it in stock condition and had some modifications done like bigger and fatter tyres, tuned engines, bull bars, cheap lights (detrimental to the battery and/or electricals) and even diesel or 1.6-litre Suzuki engine swaps (from the previous-gen Baleno sedan). 

So, you have to be really lucky to get your hands on a nice Gypsy. As I write, I’m myself looking through some used Gypsy listings, hoping to get one in good condition. 

The new Jimny steps in as a spiritual successor

Maruti Gypsy

The Gypsy was a cult classic and its name is still popular among the enthusiasts. It’s a lovable and capable little Maruti that has a fan in those who love the idea of a car. The Gypsy has set itself as a benchmark in the hearts of rallyists, enthusiasts, and defence personnel. We’re getting the fourth-gen Jimny, and for the first time in the nameplate’s history will be offered in a five-door avatar. It’s surely not as barebones as the Gypsy, and is more of a modern take on the nameplate with premium features. That said, it’ll still carry the ideology of the Gypsy – an SUV which will always say yes to any terrain. 

Like you (the reader) and me, we can just sit and wonder if the Jimny (son) successfully carry the legacy its father built. 

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